Mar 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump says removing filibuster would be "catastrophic for the Republican Party"

Trump points a finger.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former President Trump warned the GOP that removing the filibuster would be "catastrophic for the Republican Party" during an interview on the podcast “The Truth with Lisa Boothe."

Flashback: Trump told Republican lawmakers in 2018 that keeping the filibuster would be "the end of the party," insisting that Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) would eliminate it as soon as Democrats took the majority, Politico reported at the time.

Why it matters: Schumer has faced mounting pressure from progressives to remove the filibuster for priority issues like climate change and voting rights.

  • Eliminating the 60-vote filibuster and moving to a simple majority requirement in the Senate would significantly limit the power of the minority party, which has often used the procedure to delay or block legislative action it opposes.

What he's saying: "Look, he's hanging by a thread right now with respect to the filibuster," Trump said about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) attempts to stave off any changes to the filibuster.

  • "[I]f they get the fili — he's hanging on Joe Manchin, who always goes with the Democrats. Joe talks, but he ends up going with the Democrats."
  • "Now there’s another great senator from the state of Arizona," Trump continued, referring to moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). "He's hanging by a thread and if they get rid of the filibuster, if they knock it out, it will be catastrophic for the Republican Party."

Trump went on to attack McConnell as weak, arguing that the party needs "better leadership" in order to "rein in" anti-Trump senators like Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).

  • "And now, they knock out the filibuster, it’s going to be a real problem. ... they’re gong to have a free for all," he added.
  • "And I told Mitch McConnell from almost the first day, I said, look, the first thing they’re going to do is knock out the filibuster. So if they’re going to knock it out, maybe we should and get everything that we want."

The state of play: McConnell last week warned Democrats that removing the filibuster would "break the Senate" and turn the chamber into a "100-car pileup" where chaos reigns.

  • He also promised retribution if the GOP took back control of the Senate, saying, "We wouldn't just erase every liberal change that hurt the country —we'd strengthen America with all kinds of conservative policies with zero, zero input from the other side."
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